|Daniel Bard and his fastball: ‘I feel good about where it’s headed’||02.25.13 at 7:27 pm ET|
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — There has been much discussion about Daniel Bard‘s velocity – or lack thereof – on his fastball. The 98 and 99 MPH readings that were commonplace in the spring of 2009 and ’10 are not there.
But the right-hander isn’t worried.
He threw mostly fastballs to the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning Monday, his only inning of work, and those fastballs ranged mostly between 92-94 MPH, with a couple topping out at 95.
“I think overall, I would say it was better,” Bard said. “I’m just still working hard to get on top of every pitch. Still have a little bit of a tendency a little rotational and I think that’s where you see some of those errant ones. For the most part, mechanics feel good. Just that one little thing, keeping my hand on top of the ball and driving down through the zone is key for me.
“It’s a small thing that takes a lot of reps to get it right. I had a some bad habits built up from last year. We’ve corrected most of them and that’s just the one thing we’re working on. I feel good. I feel like I can finally trust myself with throwing the ball where I want to and just attacking guys.”
Bard lost his fastball when the Red Sox moved him to the rotation and he started pitching with the mentality of conserving energy and pitches. Now back in the bullpen, Bard believes that once the mechanics are fixed, his upper-90s fastball will return.
“I think so. I think there’s probably three or four miles an hour just in having a little better finish on top of the ball, just backspinning the ball,” Bard said after Monday’s outing. “It’s close. I’m doing on certain pitches and not others. When that last bit of mechanics becomes consistent, I feel good about where it’s headed.”
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PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — It’s odd by even spring training standards – two visits to the mound by the catcher to speak with his pitcher, including one after just three pitches into the game.
That was what happened Monday at Charlotte Sports Park as Alfredo Aceves didn’t like what his catcher David Ross was throwing down for signals. Aceves gave up two hits and two runs in the opening inning as part of a 29-pitch, 14-strike effort over two innings. He did not factor into the decision as the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 6-3.
And to Ross’ credit, being the veteran he is, he took full responsibility for Aceves not feeling comfortable in the first inning of his first spring training start.
‘Yeah, it’s early. It’s early,” Ross said. “It’s one of the things that stink as a catcher when you feel like you ruin a guy’s rhythm sometimes when you’re not on the same page because I have to know what’s coming and know where they want me to set up and know where they want the pitches thrown and signs. It’s one of those things that’s really frustrating for me just because I know it’s me. When I’m just not on the same page, I have to get right with him. It comes with time. I’m new.
‘I say, ‘what do you want?’ If he’s shaking me off three or four times, and I can’t get it right, I just ask him what pitch he wants to throw and make sure we’re on the same page as far as what sign we’re going with. Sometimes I go through signs, I go fastball away, fastball in, and then curveball, slider, I may have forgotten changeup or maybe he wanted fastball up. It’s just me being still being new and messing with everybody’s rhythm around here. I’d rather him call me out there and get it right from the get-go. Sometimes, I think I hinder those guys and make them think too much and they’re not as comfortable. Today was a good learning process for me and next time will be a better outing.’
For his part, Aceves said he’s still getting familiar with Ross.
‘This is the first time that we’ve thrown,” Aceves said. “He’s a good catcher. For me he’s a good catcher, and he’s going to help a lot of pitchers. He’s got a lot of knowledge in baseball. Got a lot of time in baseball. So he knows about calling pitches, how to go against the hitters, go after them, go after the outs.’
Mixed signals or not, there was nothing wrong with Aceves’ arm, as he was sitting on 94 MPH when he was throwing his fastball, which was most of the time in his two-inning stint.
‘I didn’t know. I was kind of surprised. I was like, I’m throwing 94? I thank God I have the skills,” Aceves said. “I do the little things. As a team. I work out, I do my sprints, I do my stretches with the trainers. They’ve been good with us. They have our backs. They always say, you know, you’ve got the shoulder program, you’ve got mound, it helps a lot.’
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Dustin Pedroia connected for his first homer of spring training and Mike Carp had an RBI double in the second inning as a split-squad Red Sox club lost to the Rays, 6-3, Monday afternoon at Charlotte Sports Park.
Alfredo Aceves gaves up two hits and two runs in two innings of work, walking two and striking out none. He threw 29 pitches, 14 for strikes in his first start of the Grapefruit League season. After Pedroia staked Aceves to a 1-0 lead with the homer in the top of the first, Aceves gave up two runs in the bottom of the inning on a Yunel Escobar double to left.
Carp, playing in his first action of the spring since being acquired from Seattle last week, came through with an RBI double to right-center in the top of the second, scoring Ryan Sweeney and trying the game, 2-2.
The Rays took the lead for good with three runs off Chris Hernandez (0-1) in the fourth.
Daniel Bard threw a scoreless fifth inning, with one walk and a strikeout. He got out of a first-and-second, one-out jam in the fifth when Sean Rodriguez lined into a double play. As he did against Northeastern last Thursday, Bard threw a mix of fastballs and sliders, with his slider being his most effective pitch. He struck out Hak-Ju Lee with a slider for the first out of the inning before hitting Leslie Anderson with a slider. He then walked Luke Scott before getting Rodriguez to hit into the inning-ending double-play.
Scouts recorded Bard’s fastball sitting between 92-94 MPH, topping out at 95.
The Red Sox played with a lineup of mostly regulars while a lineup of reserves beat the Jays in the other split-squad game up in Dunedin.
The Red Sox will host the St. Louis Cardinals at JetBlue Park on Tuesday afternoon.
David Ross on Aceves: “Good, good. Early on, I think a lot of these guys are working on fastball command. They’re flipping breaking stuff in there but when in doubt, we’re throwing fastballs, trying to get ahead of hitters and work down in the zone. So, you’re seeing a lot of fastball counts, that’s why you see a lot of balls getting hit hard. It’s just kind of making us throw strike one. The one thing I would say we have to work on, it’s still early but we have to get ahead, throw strike one down in the zone and we can be the aggressor.”
Ross on a mound meeting with Aceves after only three pitches: “Yeah, it’s early. It’s early. It’s one of the things that stink as a catcher when you feel like you ruin a guy’s rhythm sometimes when you’re not on the same page because I have to know what’s coming and know where they want me to set up and know where they want the pitches thrown and signs. It’s one of those things that’s really frustrating for me just because I know it’s me. When I’m just not on the same page, I have to get right with him. It comes with time. I’m new.”
“I say, ‘what do you want?’ If he’s shaking me off three or four times, and I can’t get it right, I just ask him what pitch he wants to throw and make sure we’re on the same page as far as what sign we’re going with. Sometimes I go through signs, I go fastball away, fastball in, and then curveball, slider, I may have forgotten changeup or maybe he wanted fastball up. It’s just me being still being new and messing with everybody’s rhythm around here. I’d rather him call me out there and get it right from the get-go. Sometimes, I think I hinder those guys and make them think too much and they’re not as comfortable. Today was a good learning process for me and next time will be a better outing.”
Aceves on getting familiar with Ross: “This is the first time that we’ve thrown. He’s a good catcher. For me he’s a good catcher, and he’s going to help a lot of pitchers. He’s got a lot of knowledge in baseball. Got a lot of time in baseball. So he knows about calling pitches, how to go against the hitters, go after them, go after the outs.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Red Sox regulars in Port Charlotte against Rays||at 12:50 pm ET|
Lovullo said Aceves was expected to get two innings of work and 35 pitches before Daniel Bard comes on for an inning.
Other notes: Felix Doubront threw 31 pitches in a two-inning simulated game Monday at JetBlue Park.
On Bard, Chris Hernandez and Terry Doyle following Aceves: “We’ve got Bardo, Hernandez and doyle. After that, go to younger kids. Goal right now is to get everybody their work in, get everyone up to their pitch counts, then make adjustments as needed. Pretty much the plan.”
MLB executive Tony LaRussa was in town to talk to Joe Maddon on Monday morning about MLB rule changes this year, most prominently the change that makes the fake throw to third and then first a balk this year. Maddon wasn’t a big fan and said teams will adjust. Lovullo agreed.
“I think it gives the baserunners a little bit more of an advantage to steal bases,” said Lovullo, who is serving as Farrell’s bench coach. “They’re very aware of the first to third move, which might slow their initial jump. We think there might be some new trending in holding runners on third base. You might see managers holding runners at third base as if they’re on first base. We’re not exactly sure what’s going to happen. We’re prepared for anything, because of the change. Moving forward, we think it’s going to help us more than anything.
On Bard: “As he’s starting to move forward, I think he’s on the right track and things are moving in a really positive direction for him. He’s comfortable and confident of getting back to the form that we’re all expecting. We don’t want to make much of it, other than letting him go out there and doing his thing and showing us where he’s at.”
On Farrell: “returning” to face Blue Jays in Dunedin Monday: “Sure there’s going to be mixed emotions on both sides. John will go out there and handle it well.” Lovullo was Farrell’s first base coach for two seasons in Toronto before being hired to serve as Farrell’s bench coach in Boston.
On returning to Toronto on Friday, April 5: “I think [Red Sox third base coach] Brian Butterfield will have that place torn down, because they love him there. He’s going to get a standing ovation. Wait for that one. Remember I said it. But deservedly so. He spent a lot of time there and did some incredible things.”
On his experience in Toronto: “Personally speaking, I spent two really good years there. I have nothing but fond memories of the front office to the people inside the clubhouse, they’re my friends and I miss them. I’ll be anxious to get up there and say hello to them. However the fans perceive that and what I may encounter up there, it’s up to them.”
On what Yunel Escobar, whom he knew in Toronto the last two seasons, will mean to Rays at shortstop: “As far as tools and overall raw stregnth, he’s top of the list. He makes every play look easy. It’s a new fresh start for him and I know he’s probably going to take his game to the next level and become an elite shortstop, which he certainly has the capabilities of becoming. He’s a special guy with a special baseball mind.”
For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.
|Xander Bogaerts off to Taiwan for WBC: ‘I’m excited’||02.23.13 at 5:22 pm ET|
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Red Sox top prospect Xander Bogaerts said Saturday he was excited and looking forward to leaving for Taiwan to train with the Netherlands for the upcoming world baseball classic. Bogaerts is one of four Red Sox players in the system taking part in the upcoming WBC. Bogearts left late Saturday night for the long trip to Asia.
Bogaerts certainly went off on a high note, singling home a run in the bottom of the ninth Saturday in Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Rays at JetBlue Park and making a nice defensive play in a rundown to end the Tampa Bay seventh inning.
“I’m excited to be part of the team,” said Bogaerts, who grew up in Aruba, a territory of the Netherlands. “I’ll get to meet the guys again. I had a long time without seeing some of them, so it’ll be fun to be playing back with them. [I’m looking forward to] just being with all the guys that I grew up playing with or playing against. That’ll make it exciting.”
Bogaerts is leaving just as he is getting to know his teammates in his first big league training camp with the Red Sox.
“Yeah, that’s what makes this kind of tough,” said Bogaerts. “This is my first big league spring training and it would be nice if
I could stay around the big league guys but it’s also a good experience to go there and play in the World Baseball Classic. So I’m excited.”
‘March 3 is the day that we have that Shane and other guys will travel,” Farrell said. “Team Puerto Rico is going to be here. Team Mexico is going to be in Arizona as Team USA. So it’s more travel for Xander and those players traveling to Asia.
“We know going in that Xander’s going to get regular at-bats at either DH or third base. With [Oscar] Villarreal and [Jose] De La Torre, they’re going to be pitching out of the bullpen, so they’re going to get the right number of innings in advance of the season.
‘The one thing that [Team USA manager] Joe Torre has mentioned to us, he obviously has run spring training many years, he knows those individual players are also getting ready for their season. They’re about competing and trying to win that tournament, but at the same time he’s balancing the individual getting ready for their own respective seasons. We can’t dictate anything. Those players are going to go and compete for Team USA or any team.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Lackey worked his way out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, allowing one run in 20 pitches, while Jose Iglesias hit a two-run homer over the Monster as the Red Sox fell to the Rays, 4-3, Saturday afternoon at JetBlue Park in the Grapefruit League opener for both clubs. Xander Bogaerts, in his final at-bat before leaving for the WBC, singled home a run in the ninth to make it close. Daniel Nava struck out looking with the tying run on base to end the game before a sellout crowd of 9,680 at JetBlue Park.
Lackey was making his first outing since Sept. 25, 2011 and his first since Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
He allowed one run, one hit, walked one, struck out one and a hit a batter as the Rays managed just one run after loading the bases with none out in the first.
Ryan Roberts drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly to right off Lackey, scoring Ben Zobrist. The Rays added another in the third as Jarrod Saltalamacchia had an inning to forget. He dropped a foul pop that extended the at-bat of Jack Cust. On the next pitch, Desmond Jennings stole third and Saltalamacchia’s throw sailed into left field, allowing Jennings to score, making it 2-0.
The Red Sox went quietly in the first six innings before Jeremy Hazelbaker walked with one out. Iglesias followed by driving a first-pitch fastball over the Monster in left for Boston’s first homer of the spring, tying the game, 2-2.
The Rays got those two runs back in the eighth when Leslie Anderson drilled a two-run homer to right off Red Sox righty Oscar Villarreal (0-1) with two outs.
Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Hazelbaker had doubles as extra-base hits accounted for four of Boston’s seven hits on the day.
The Red Sox return to action across the state on Sunday as they take on the St. Louis Cardinals in Jupiter at 1:05 p.m. as lefty Jon Lester makes his spring debut. Boston plays split-squad games on Monday with Steven Wright starting against Toronto in Dunedin at 1:05 p.m. and Alfredo Aceves starting against Tampa Bay in Port Charlotte at 1:05 p.m.
POST-GAME NOTES from John Farrell:
On the homer from Iglesias: ‘Wish there were a couple more like it. As we have commented on him as camp has unfolded, he’s a little bit more upright, a little more free in his overall swing. He got a fastball up in the zone and did what he’s capable of doing. I think more than anything, it’s just the freeness and aggressiveness of the swing.”
On Xander Bogaerts, RBI single, nice defensive play in rundown: ‘A good heads up play on the rundown we executed. He’s got a good swing through the zone and like I said the other day, he’s a bright-looking young player. He’s heady. He’s got field awareness. Good things are ahead for him.’
On Daniel Nava first base defense: ‘As we’ve seen in the work, that wasn’t an easy play on that ground ball by [Ben] Zobrist. He looks fine over there for right now. The little things, even on the errant throw [by Iglesias] that you see the footwork where he adjusted on the bag, some things that are more instinctual. To have him step in and the last time he played first base was in junior college, and he’s handled it well.”
On Clay Buchholz 37-pitch simulated game: ‘He’ll have a side on Monday and then he’s set to go Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s yet to be determined. We’ll fit that into how it starts to plan out for the start of the regular season. He’s gradually ramping up the intensity [on fielding], not only just with field tests as far as straight-ahead running or any kind of cuts, but in time, that’ll take its place. We want to prioritize the work he does on the mound right now.’
For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — John Lackey is a changed man.
After allowing one run on one hit, one strikeout, one walk and one hit batter in his spring debut Saturday, the 34-year-old right-hander admitted to being his age, laughed about his 20-pitch outing and expressed appreciation for feeling no pain in his elbow for the first time since signing with the Red Sox before the 2010 season.
“I’ve lied, for sure, about that,” Lackey said when asked if he hid arm pain from the Red Sox in the first three seasons with the team. “There’s definitely some pain. There were a few times when I said there wasn’t but it’s been a few years, for sure.”
Despite loading the bases with none out on the first 10 pitches he threw, he was enjoying the experience all the while on the JetBlue mound.
“I did,” he said. “I kind of took a second before I went out on the mound and reflected on the bench on the past year and a half. It’s been a lot of work and have to thank a lot of trainers, a lot of people that helped me get back to this point. I was excited to be back out there.
“[I was] excited. It was fun. I missed playing baseball for sure. It was good to be back out there. The arm felt fine. I didn’t feel any pain in the elbow. Just keep moving forward.”
Lackey allowed one run, one hit, one walk, struck out a batter and hit a batter in a 20-pitch first inning of work, his only inning of the day.
“Results stuff I really wasn’t real concerned about today,” he said. “Just glad to be back out there and get things going in that direction. Next time out we’ll get to working on a few other things.”
What did his manager think?
‘The ball got out of his hand as we expected today,” John Farrell said. ‘It’s a big step, and it’s one over the last 16 months, he was on his program, and at times, he probably felt like he was the only one going through it. And today was the first step for his building block for spring training and getting back to being a regular member of this rotation.
‘I think there was a lot of anticipation on a number of people’s part, and mostly John’s. But now, he’s able to get into his five-day rotation, normal sides, normal turns through the schedule. But a good first step for him.’
Farrell said the plan is to increase to two innings for his next outing, likely in five days against the Pirates in Bradenton, and increase by one inning in each subsequent start.
‘That’s the plan,” Farrell said. “He’ll build with each consecutive outing, an inning at a time.’
Lackey admitted he had some nerves taking the mound.
“There’s definitely some for sure,” Lackey said. “It got better as I got a little bit more tired. The ball started coming down a little bit but first couple of hitters, I was up in the zone. I was just going to throw all fastballs today just trying to build arm strength. I think I tried one changeup, that’s it. The rest of them were all fastballs. It’s a little different than throwing on the side for sure.”
Lackey said he wasn’t worried about velocity in the first game of the spring, a game in which he threw no breaking balls.
“The first game after Tommy John? No. I was just trying to hit the glove in the air today. The plan was one inning all along. I look forward to the next time for sure,” Lackey said.
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Well John Lackey has the art of getting out of a big jam down so far in spring training.
In his first 10 pitches Saturday against the Rays at JetBlue Park, he walked Ben Zobrist on five pitches, allowed a first-pitch single to Desmond Jennings and hit Matt Joyce on the fourth pitch of the at-bat to load the bases with none out.
Lackey rebounded to strike out Jack Cust swinging on four pitches, one of his two swing-and-miss offerings on the day. Ryan Roberts drove a 1-0 pitch to right field for a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist.
Lackey completed his comeback, getting Sean Rodriguez to fly out to right for the final out.
His line: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K and 1 HBP on 20 pitches, 10 strikes.
His pitch-by-pitch went like this:
Jennings: X (single to left)
Joyce: BFBX(hit by pitch)
Roberts: BX(Sac fly to right)
Rodriguez: SBLX (fly to right)
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz said he felt good after throwing 37 pitches in Saturday morning’s simulated game outside JetBlue Park. Buchholz says he still needs to work on his delivery from the stretch but other than that felt good with his command and his secondary pitches. Buchholz said he felt no ill effects from a very minor right hamstring strain in the first week of camp.
Buchholz threw his whole arsenal of pitches from the windup and stretch, struggling a little bit with his secondary pitches from the stretch in the second inning of his two-inning simulation.
“There’s no restrictions here. I felt really good,” Buchholz said. “The one thing that I definitely need to work on that I haven’t had the chance to is work out of the stretch. Didn’t really go in-depth with it. There were definitely some kinks in the delivery. Other than that, I felt strong. First and foremost, the arm feels really good. The hamstring is sort of secondary to that to me.
“There were no issues. I’ve been running the last couple of days, sprint stuff and I haven’t had anything holding me back so that felt good.”
Buchholz tweaked his right hamstring bending over to pick up a grounder in PFP drills on the first day of camp on Feb. 12. He fielded a high chop on the final pitch to Mike Carp on Saturday but he acknowledged that he hasn’t tested it full yet in game speed.
“I’ve done a little bit of that, too,” Buchholz said of fielding drills. “I haven’t gone completely full speed with that but it can’t be that far away I feel, just keep treating it and go from there.
“They told me four days ago if it was midseason and I needed to pitch, I could pitch. We’re basically treating this as we have two extra weeks here in spring training. There’s no rush for me to get back. I’m still going to have six, maybe seven outings in spring before we head north. I don’t think there’s anything that’s going to be holding me back in the next few days.”
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz threw his first simulated game Saturday morning on the training fields outside JetBlue Park as the Red Sox prepared to take on the Tampa Bay Rays in the main park in the official Grapefruit League opener.
Buchholz threw a majority of off-speed and breaking pitches in the two-inning simulation with minor league outfielder Juan Carlos Linares and Mike Carp standing in and taking occasional swings against the Red Sox.
Buchholz threw a live batting practice session on Wednesday prior to Saturday’s test on the practice field beyond left field. Saturday’s starter John Lackey, Ryan Dempster, John Farrell and GM Ben Cherington all stood behind the batting cage watching as Buchholz completed his session. Franklin Morales also threw a simulated game Saturday morning, while Buchholz took a 10-minute break.
In other notes, Farrell confirmed that star infield prospect Xander Bogaerts will leave Saturday night for Taiwan to train with the Netherlands for the upcoming WBC tournament.
Mike Napoli and David Ortiz did some light running on the bases during Saturday morning’s batting practice on the main field but Napoli will go through a more formal base-running drill on Sunday before getting cleared for game action, likely in the middle-to-latter part of next week. Ortiz, meanwhile, is still behind Napoli but Farrell and the Red Sox have not outlined a specific timetable for his return to game action.
Farrell also said Saturday morning that the only way Napoli will be used as a catcher this season is in an emergency situation late in a game when Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross are unavailable.
For more, visit the Red Sox team page at weei.com/redsox.
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